Saturday, May 30, 2015

"Festival Te Deum in E": Benjamin Britten

In honor of the Sunday of the Trinity, here's the Guildford Cathedral Choir singing this piece; pretty dramatic! 

Some parishes sing the Te Deum at the end of the mass on Trinity Sunday; at St. Mary's, two thurifers stand at each end of the altar and swing their thuribles throughout.   Always wonderful, and I highly recommend this to anybody.  The smoke swirls up, up, up....

In my new parish, we've been singing the Te Deum (#S205 in the 1982) in place of the Gloria all throughout Easter; I've never seen that done before, but I like it.

Here, apparently, is Arvo Pärt's Te Deum - and as with everything else I've heard of his, I find it extremely compelling and beautiful.  It's 32 minutes long!

The YouTuber writes that the performers are the Akademisk Kor and the Akademisk Orkester, with Nenia Zenana conducting and Marianne G. Nielsen, solist.  S/he also writes that:
Te Deum employs Pärt's signature tintinnabuli compositional style. Tintinnabuli is often described as a minimalistic compositional technique, as its harmonic logic departs from that of the tonal tradition of Western classical music, creating its own distinct harmonic system. Tintinnabulation is a process in which a chosen triad encircles a melody, manifesting itself in specific positions in relation to the melody according to a predetermined scheme of adjacency. In its most rudimentary form, Pärt's tintinnabuli music is composed of two main voices: one carries the usually stepwise melody (M-voice) while the other follows the trajectory of the melody but is limited to notes of a specific triad (T-voice.) In the case of Te Deum, it is a D triad that is featured in the T-voice, and as such provides the harmonic basis for the entire piece.

The work is scored for three choirs (women's choir, men's choir, and mixed choir), prepared piano, divisi strings, and wind harp. According to the Universal Edition full score, the piano part requires that four pitches be prepared with metal screws and calls for "as large a concert grand as possible" and "amplified." The wind harp is similar to the Aeolian Harp, its strings vibrating due to wind passing through the instrument. Manfred Eicher of ECM Records "recorded this 'wind music' on tape and processed it acoustically." The two notes (D and A) performed on the wind harp are to be played on two separate CD or DAT recordings. According to the score preface, the wind harp functions as a drone throughout the piece, fulfilling "a function comparable to that of the ison in Byzantine church music, a repeated note which does not change pitch."

Here's the Gregorian Chant version - the Solemn Te Deum - sung here by the monks at Solesmes:

Here are all the words, in Latin and English, from Wikipedia:

Latin text Translation from the Book of Common Prayer
Te Deum laudámus: te Dominum confitémur.
Te ætérnum Patrem omnis terra venerátur.
Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi coeli et univérsae potestátes.
Tibi Chérubim et Séraphim incessábili voce proclámant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dóminus Deus Sábaoth.
Pleni sunt coeli et terra majestátis glóriæ tuæ.
Te gloriósus Apostolórum chorus;
Te Prophetárum laudábilis númerus;
Te Mártyrum candidátus laudat exércitus.
Te per orbem terrárum sancta confitétur Ecclésia:
Patrem imménsæ majestátis; Venerándum tuum verum et únicum Fílium;
Sanctum quoque Paráclitum Spíritum.
Tu Rex glóriæ, Christe.
Tu Patris sempitérnus es Fílius.
Tu ad liberándum susceptúrus hóminem, non horruísti Vírginis úterum.
Tu, devícto mortis acúleo, aperuísti credéntibus regna coelórum.
Tu ad déxteram Dei sedes, in glória Patris.
Judex créderis esse ventúrus.
Te ergo quǽsumus, tuis fámulis súbveni, quos pretióso sánguine redemísti.
Ætérna fac cum sanctis tuis in glória numerári.

[added later, mainly from Psalm verses:]
Salvum fac pópulum tuum, Dómine, et bénedic hæreditáti tuæ.
Et rege eos, et extólle illos usque in ætérnum.
Per síngulos dies benedícimus te.
Et laudámus nomen tuum in sǽculum, et in sǽculum sǽculi.
Dignáre, Dómine, die isto sine peccáto nos custodíre.
Miserére nostri, Dómine, miserére nostri.
Fiat misericórdia tua, Dómine, super nos, quemádmodum sperávimus in te.
In te, Dómine, sperávi: non confúndar in ætérnum.
We praise thee, O God :
    we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee :
    the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud :
    the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim :
    continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy :
    Lord God of Hosts;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty :
    of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles : praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets : praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs : praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world :
    doth acknowledge thee;
The Father : of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honourable, true : and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost : the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory : O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son : of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man :
    thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death :
    thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God : in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come : to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants :
    whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints : in glory everlasting.

[added later, mainly from Psalm verses:]
O Lord, save thy people :
    and bless thine heritage.
Govern them : and lift them up for ever.
Day by day : we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name : ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord : to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us : have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us :
    as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted :
    let me never be confounded.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Introit for Pentecost Ember Friday: Repleatur os Meum ("Let my mouth be filled with your praise")

Here's a recording of this beautiful introit, sung by the "Choralschola of the Niederaltaicher Scholaren":

The text is taken from various verses of Psalm 71:
Repleatur os meum laude tua, Domine. Alleluia.
Ut possim cantare. Alleluia.
Gaudebunt labia mea dum cantavero tibi. Alleluia.
In te, Domine, speravi,
non confundar in aeternum:
in iustitia tua libera me (et eripe me).

Let my mouth be filled with thy praise, O Lord. Hallelujah.
That I may sing. Hallelujah.
My lips shall rejoice when I sing to you. Hallelujah.
In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
let me never be confounded:

In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me.

And what is "Pentecost Ember Friday," you ask?  Here's an explanation from the Catholic Encyclopeida of 1913; my bolding below:
Ember days (corruption from Lat. Quatuor Tempora, four times) are the days at the beginning of the seasons ordered by the Church as days of fast and abstinence. They were definitely arranged and prescribed for the entire Church by Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085) for the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after 13 December (S. Lucia), after Ash Wednesday, after Whitsunday, and after 14 September (Exaltation of the Cross). The purpose of their introduction, besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy. The immediate occasion was the practice of the heathens of Rome. The Romans were originally given to agriculture, and their native gods belonged to the same class. At the beginning of the time for seeding and harvesting religious ceremonies were performed to implore the help of their deities: in June for a bountiful harvest, in September for a rich vintage, and in December for the seeding; hence their feriae sementivae, feriae messis, and feri vindimiales. The Church, when converting heathen nations, has always tried to sanctify any practices which could be utilized for a good purpose. At first the Church in Rome had fasts in June, September, and December; the exact days were not fixed but were announced by the priests. The "Liber Pontificalis" ascribes to Pope Callistus (217-222) a law ordering the fast, but probably it is older. Leo the Great (440-461) considers it an Apostolic institution. When the fourth season was added cannot be ascertained, but Gelasius (492-496) speaks of all four. This pope also permitted the conferring of priesthood and deaconship on the Saturdays of ember week--these were formerly given only at Easter. Before Gelasius the ember days were known only in Rome, but after his time their observance spread. They were brought into England by St. Augustine; into Gaul and Germany by the Carlovingians. Spain adopted them with the Roman Liturgy in the eleventh century. They were introduced by St. Charles Borromeo into Milan. The Eastern Church does not know them. The present Roman Missal, in the formulary for the Ember days, retains in part the old practice of lessons from Scripture in addition to the ordinary two: for the Wednesdays three, for the Saturdays six, and seven for the Saturday in December. Some of these lessons contain promises of a bountiful harvest for those that serve God.

Here's some of the entry for "Ember Days" from Wikipedia; unfortunately there's no mention of the very important purpose described in bold in the entry above:
In the liturgical calendar of the Western Christian churches, Ember days are four separate sets of three days within the same week — specifically, the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday — roughly equidistant in the circuit of the year, that were formerly set aside for fasting and prayer. These days set apart for special prayer and fasting were considered especially suitable for the ordination of clergy. The Ember Days are known in Latin as the quattuor anni tempora (the "four seasons of the year"), or formerly as the jejunia quattuor temporum ("fasts of the four seasons").

The four quarterly periods during which the ember days fall are called the embertides.

Ember Weeks
The Ember Weeks—the weeks in which the Ember Days occur—are the weeks:
The origins of the observance are open to considerable debate. Some hold that the concept of the observance predates the Christian era, and that since Ember days have never been observed in the Eastern Churches, any pagan origins must lie in the west.[citation needed] Some point to specific Celtic origins, linked to the Celtic custom of observing various festivals at three-month intervals: Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain. In any event, the ancient Christian church often sought to co-opt pagan feasts and reorient them to different purposes, and that seems to have been applicable in this instance[citation needed].

In pagan Rome offerings were made to various gods and goddesses of agriculture in the hope that the deities would provide a bountiful harvest (the feriae messis in July), a rich vintage (the feriae vindimiales in September), or a productive seeding (the feriae sementivae in December). At first the Church in Rome had fasts in June, September, and December. The Liber Pontificalis ascribes to Pope Callixtus I (217-222) a law regulating the fast, although Leo the Great (440-461) considers it an Apostolic institution. When the fourth season was added cannot be ascertained, but Pope Gelasius I (492-496) speaks of all four.

The earliest mention of four seasonal fasts is known from the writings of Philastrius, bishop of Brescia (died ca 387) (De haeres. 119). He also connects them with the great Christian festivals.

The Christian observation of this seasonal observance of the Ember days had its origin as an ecclesiastical ordinance in Rome and spread from there to the rest of the Western Church. They were known as the jejunium vernum, aestivum, autumnale and hiemale, so that to quote Pope Leo's words (A.D. 440 - 461) the law of abstinence might apply to every season of the year. In Leo's time, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday were already days of special observance. In order to tie them to the fasts preparatory to the three great festivals of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost, a fourth needed to be added "for the sake of symmetry" as the Encyclopædia Britannica 1911 has it.

From Rome the Ember days gradually spread unevenly through the whole of Western Christendom. In Gaul they do not seem to have been generally recognized much before the 8th century.

Their observation in Britain, however, was embraced earlier than in Gaul or Spain, interestingly, and Christian sources connect the Ember Days observations with Augustine of Canterbury, AD. 597, said to be acting under the direct authority of Pope Gregory the Great. The precise dates appears to have varied considerably however, and in some cases, quite significantly, the Ember Weeks lost their connection with the Christian festivals altogether. Spain adopted them with the Roman rite in the eleventh century. Charles Borromeo introduced them into Milan in the sixteenth century.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church ember days have never been observed.[1]


The Ordo Romanus fixed the spring fast in the first week of March (then the first month), thus loosely associated with the first Sunday in Lent; the summer fast in the second week of June, after Whitsunday; the autumnal fast in the third week of September following the Exaltation of the Cross, September 14; and the winter fast in the complete week next before Christmas Eve, following St. Lucy's Day (Dec. 13).

Other regulations prevailed in different countries, until the inconveniences arising from the want of uniformity led to the rule now observed being laid down under Pope Urban II as the law of the church, at the Council of Piacenza and the Council of Clermont, 1095.
These dates are given in the following mnemonic:
Dant Crux, Lucia, Cineres, Charismata Dia
Ut sit in angariâ quarta sequens feria
Or in an old English rhyme
"Fasting days and Emberings be
Lent, Whitsun, Holyrood, and Lucie."

Another way to remember it, in the form in which I've heard it recently:  "Lenty, Penty, Crucy, Lucy"!

More from the article:
The ember days began on the Wednesday immediately following those days.


They may appear in some calendars as "days of prayer for peace".[4]

The English name for these days, "Ember", derives from the Anglo-Saxon ymbren, a circuit or revolution (from ymb, around, and ryne, a course, running), clearly relating to the annual cycle of the year. The occurrence of the Anglo-Saxon compounds ymbren-tid ("Embertide"), ymbren-wucan ("Ember weeks"), ymbren-fisstan ("Ember fasts"), ymbren-dagas ("Ember days") makes this etymology quite certain. The word imbren even makes it into the acts of the "Council of Ænham"[6] (1009): jejunia quatuor tempora quae imbren vocant, "the fasts of the four seasons which are called "imbren'".[7] It corresponds also with Pope Leo the Great's definition, jejunia ecclesiastica per totius anni circulum distributa ("fasts of the church distributed through the whole circuit of the year").

However, others maintain that the term is derived from the Latin quatuor tempora, meaning "four times" (a year), while folk etymology even cites the phrase "may ye remember (the inevitability of death)" as the source. J. M. Neale's Essays of Liturgiology (1863), Chapter X, explains the etymology:
"The Latin name has remained in modern languages, though the contrary is sometimes affirmed, Quatuor Tempora, the Four Times. In French and Italian the term is the same; in Spanish and Portuguese they are simply Temporas. The German converts them into Quatember, and thence, by the easy corruption of dropping the first syllable, a corruption which also takes place in some other words, we get the English Ember. Thus, there is no occasion to seek after an etymology in embers; or with Nelson, to extravagate still further to the noun ymbren, a recurrence, as if all holy seasons did not equally recur. Ember-week in Wales is Welsh: "Wythnos y cydgorian", meaning "the Week of the Processions". In mediæval Germany they were called Weihfasten, Wiegfastan, Wiegefasten, or the like, on the general principle of their sanctity.... We meet with the term Frohnfasten, frohne being the then word for travail. Why they were named foldfasten it is less easy to say."
"Quattuor tempora" was rendered into Irish quite literally as Laethanta na gCeithre Thráth, meaning "the days of the four times", and into somewhat archaic English as "Quarter tense".

This is a beautiful setting of the Introit text composed by Jacquet de Mantua, a name new to me.

This is actually a shorter take on Psalm 70/71, including only vv. 7-8 (note that the numbering system for the verses in this Psalm varies from translation to translation):
Repleatur os meum laude, ut cantem gloriam tuam, tota die magnitudinem tuam.
Ne projicias me in tempore senectutis; cum defecerit virtus mea, ne derelinquas me.
Let my mouth be filled with your praise, and I will sing a hymn to your glory and magnificence all day long.
Do not reject me in the time of old age; do not abandon me when my strength fails.

The YouTube page lists this group of singers:
Paolo Costa y Claudio Cavina, contratenores.
Fabio Fùrnari y Giuseppe Maletto, tenores.
Marco Scavazza, barítono.
Marcello Vargetto, bajo.
Delitiae Musicae.
Marco Longhini.

And Wikipedia says this about de Mantua in its intro; there is more at the link:
Jacquet of Mantua (Jacques Colebault, dit Jachet de Mantoue) (1483 – October 2, 1559) was a French[1] composer of the Renaissance, who spent almost his entire life in Italy. He was an influential member of the generation between Josquin and Palestrina, and represents well the transitional polyphonic style between those two composers.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Communion Song for Pentecost: Factus est repente de caelo sonus ("Suddenly there came a sound from heaven")

The Communio for Pentecost is taken from the story from Acts 2 of the original day of Pentecost; no word on who the singers are here:

CPDL has the Latin text for this chant, plus an English translation by "the St. Ann choir":
Factus est repente de coelo sonus,
tamquam advenientis spiritus vehementis ubi erant sedentes,
et repleti sunt omnes Spiritu Sancto,
loquentes magnalia Dei,
alleluia, alleluia.

Suddenly there came a sound from heaven,
as of a mighty wind coming where they were sitting,
and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit,
speaking the wonderful works of God,
alleluia, alleluia.

Here's the full score:

Here's another video of this, sung in a bit of a different style; very pretty:

The video was uploaded by "La Mission de la Maison du Coeur" - about which I am trying to find more.  Not sure if the singers are somehow related to that group or not.

Here's a polyphonic version of the song; the composer is Gregor Aichinger, who lived during the 16th Century. The singers are the Ensemble Vocale di Venezia (dir: Gianandrea Pauletta).

Don't forget to read Full Homely Divinity's Pentecost entry!  And whatever you do, don't forget to sing The Pentecost Sequence (Veni, Sancte Spiritus) and "Come Down, O Love Divine".  And that's not even to mention Veni Creator Spiritus!  The Holy Spirit certainly inspires some spectacular music.

Here are links to all the propers on the day, from the Benedictines of Brazil:
Dominica Pentecostes ad Missam in die
Introitus:  Spiritus Domini (cum Gloria Patri)(5m07.0s - 4798 kb)  view score
Alleluia: Emitte Spiritum tuum (1m55.4s - 1806 kb)  view score
Alleluia: Veni, Sancte Spiritus (2m02.9s - 1922 kb)  view score
Sequentia: Veni, Sancte Spiritus (2m29.7s - 2341 kb)  view score
Offertorium: Confirma hoc, Deus (1m35.3s - 1491 kb)  view score
Communio: Factus est repente (1m16.3s - 1195 kb)  view score
Ad dimittendum populum: Ite missa est (28.7s - 451 kb)  view score

And here are Chantblog posts on the Pentecost propers:

Here's a beautiful, delicate piece of Pentecost art I haven't seen before: it's "tempera and gold on parchment," from a "Bohemian Master (1400 - 1425)."  It currently resides in the Museum of Fine Arts (Budapest).

Veni, Sancte Spiritus....

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Ascension Antiphon on the Magnificat: O Rex Gloriae

While working on my last post, "Vespers for the Feast of the Ascension: Hymnus: Salutis humanae Sator," I noticed something really fascinating.

Listen to this recording of the Ascension Antiphon on the Magnificat, O Rex Gloriae, and see what you notice:

Here's the chant score, from the Liber Usualis:

Does this remind you of anything?   It should.

Now listen to this recording of O Rex Gentium, the Great O Antiphon (that is, the Antiphon on the Magnificat) for December 22 (December 21 in Anglican reckoning):

Here's the chant score for that one:

There's no doubt about it; O Rex Gloriae is a deliberate echo - it even starts with a "Great O"!  - of the Great O Antiphons sung at Advent in the days leading up to Christmas.

Put another way:  the Great O's are sung at Christ's coming;and O Rex Gloriae is sung at Christ's going. 

I truly love discovering this kind of thing....

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"Vespers for the Feast of the Ascension: Hymnus: Salutis humanae Sator"

Claudio Monteverdi evidently wrote a setting of the service of Vespers for the Feast of the Ascension; this is the hymn from that service. As you can see, it's written in alternatim style, the chant alternating with the composed polyphony.

CPDL offers these Latin words and this English translation for this "Hymn for 2nd Vespers of the Ascension."   (Sarum, BTW, used a different hymn for Ascension Vespers:  Eterne Rex atissime.)

1. Salutis humanae Sator,
Jesu, voluptas cordium,
Orbis redempti Conditor,
Et casta lux amantium:

2. Que victus es clementia,
Ut nostra ferres crimina?
Mortem subires innocens,
A morte nos ut tolleres?

3. Perrumpis infernum chaos;
Vinctis catenas detrahis;
Victor triumpho nobili
Ad dexteram Patris sedes.

4. Te cogat indulgentia,
Ut damna nostra sarcias
Tuique vultus compotes
Dites beato lumine.

5. Tu dux ad astra, et semita,
Sis meta nostris cordibus,
Sis lacrymarum gaudium,
Sis dulce vitae praemium.

1. Hail, Thou who man's Redeemer art,
Jesu, the joy of every heart;
Great Maker of the world's wide frame,
And purest love's delight and flame:

2. What nameless mercy Thee o'ercame,
To bear out load of sin and shame?
For guiltless, Thou Thy life didst give,
That sinful erring man might live.

3. The realms of woe are forced by Thee,
Its captives from their chains set free;
And Thou, amid Thy ransomed train,
At God's right hand dost victor reign.

4. Let mercy sweet with Thee prevail,
To cure the wounds we now bewail;
Oh, bless us with Thy holy sight,
And fill us with eternal light.

5. Our guide, our way to heavenly rest,
Be Thou the aim of every breast;
Be Thou the soother of our tears,
Our sweet reward above the spheres.

Somebody has uploaded a video for every movement of this piece to YouTube; here, for instance, is "Viri Galilaei," the first Psalm antiphon (which begins with the same musical motif used for the Introit of the same name at the Ascension mass):

Here's the entire playlist, which runs the service in order:

You can follow along with the service in Latin and in English at Divinum Officium; enter 5-14-2015 for the date, and click Vesperae.

Here, from, are all the Mass Propers for Ascension, sung by the Sao Paulo Benedictines:

In Ascensione Domini
Introitus: Act. 1, 11; Ps. 46 Viri Galilæi (2m48.4s - 2635 kb) score here
Alleluia: Ps. 46, 6 Ascendit Deus (1m50.2s - 1725 kb) score here
Alleluia: Ps. 67, 18.19 Dominus in Sina (2m33.9s - 2409 kb) score here
Offertorium: Ps. 46, 6 Ascendit Deus (1m33.8s - 1469 kb MONO due to problems with my recording setscore here
(anno A)Mt. 28, 18.19 Data est mihi (1m21.9s - 1283 kb) score here
(anno B)Mc. 16, 17.18 Signa (1m05.5s - 1027 kb)
(anno C)  Ps. 67, 33.34 Psallite Domino (59.0s - 925 kb MONO due to problems with my recording setscore here

You can read other posts about the day's propers on Chantblog as well:

And don't forget to read Full Homely Divinity's article on Ascension.

The art used on the videos is not, actually, related to the Ascension;  it's a Resurrection image, from Grunewald's Isenheim Altarpiece.  

Here's an Ascension image, though; it's "a decorated initial 'C'" that "contains the Ascension of Christ," from the Drogo Sacramentary, c. 850:

Blessed Ascension!


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